Surgical Interventions for Ankle Sprains

Surgical Options for Severe Ankle Sprains
Surgical Options for Severe Ankle Sprains

Surgical Interventions for Ankle Sprains

Surgical Interventions for Ankle Sprains

Generally speaking, most types of ankle sprains can be successfully treated without any surgical interventions, via a comprehensive program involving three key phases. Phase 1 is focused on resting the foot and reducing swelling; Phase 2 enables patients to discover new methods to restore strength, flexibility and range of motion; while Phase 3 allows them to do maintenance exercises, and gradually return to their normal activity.

When Is Ankle Surgery Considered a Viable Option?

Nonetheless, this 3-phase program and the RICE (Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation) protocol correlated with the administration of anti-inflammatory medication don’t always yield the desirable results, especially when it comes to treating severe ankle sprains, which may require surgical interventions. Surgery becomes the best viable option when patients experience permanent or prolonged ankle pain as a result of a severe (III degree) sprain. Surgery is also recommended when non-surgical treatments fail to prove their effectiveness, or when patients deal with ankle instability after undergoing conventional treatment and proper rehabilitation for many months in a row.

Exploring the Most Common Surgical Options

Arthroscopy and reconstruction are two of the most common types of surgical interventions for ankle sprains. The first procedure involves the usage of an arthroscope-a small camera that the surgeon relies on to take a look inside the patient’s joint. The doctor uses small-scale instruments to remove loose parts of cartilage or bone, or fragments of ligament that may be stuck in the patient’s joint.

The goal of this intervention is to improve ankle function and minimize pain in the long run. In some cases, ankle arthroscopy is correlated with open techniques for fracture repair to restore the correct alignment of cartilage and bone. Arthroscopy may also be conducted during a fracture repair procedure performed on a broken ankle to identify the presence of cartilage injuries inside the patient’s ankle.

Reconstruction is another common surgical intervention that enables doctors to repair a torn ligament using sutures or stitches. In some situations, surgeons may decide to reconstruct a severely damaged ligament by making use of a tissue graft extracted from tendons or other ligaments from the patient’s foot.

Ankle surgery is usually recommended when patients fail to see any signs of improvement after six months of continuous conventional treatment- when the doctor reaches the conclusion that the ankle is still unstable, after performing a physical examination and analyzing X-rays of the injured ankle. Lateral ankle ligament reconstruction is an outpatient surgical intervention that can be performed under regional or general anesthesia. Surgeons can opt for several techniques, depending on the type of injury they have. For instance, they could choose to repair the patient’s ligaments with stitches. The modified Bröstrom procedure can be conducted to address lateral ligament damage. In some cases, surgeons shorten and reattach the damaged lateral ligaments to restore their functionality and improve the mechanics of the injured ankle. Then, after suturing the incisions, doctors will apply bandages.

Understanding the Importance of the Rehabilitation Phase

Each type of surgery is meant to reduce pain and improve the functionality of an injured ankle and should be followed by immobilization and rehabilitation. After the surgery, doctors may recommend that patients wear a protective boot or a cast to protect the ligament that has just been reconstructed. Patients should follow their doctor’s post-operative recommendations and wear the protective devices for as long as needed to avoid further damages that may require a secondary surgical intervention. Also, after undergoing ankle surgery, patients should discover the benefits of physical therapy during the rehabilitation phase to boost their range of motion and strength and enable their ankle to safely return to its pre-injury function.

To learn more about ankle sprains click here.

If you have ankle pain, or are considering ankle surgery contact Houston Foot and Ankle. Dr. Donald Stran is a Podiatrist serving the Houston and Friendswood areas. To learn more about the procedures treated at Houston Foot and Ankle or to schedule an appointment please call any of our locations listed below.

Friendswood: (281) 992-0006
Missouri City: (281) 741-3017
Lake Jackson: (979) 297-8500

Dr. Donald Stran

Dr. Donald C. Stran has practiced in the community since 1987. He is Board Certified and is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgery. He is currently a teaching physician with the St. Joseph’s Medical Center podiatric residency program.

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